SEATTLE — Washington knew it was coming.
With just over six minutes left in a tight game against cross-state rival Washington State the Cougars’ second-highest scorer, Lia Galdeira, had made only one bucket. It seemed a matter of when, not if, the sophomore would take over the game.
“She’s a player that likes the last five minutes of the game more than anything,” said UW freshman Kelsey Plum.
Nearly on cue, Plum and teammate Mercedes Wetmore watched as Galdeira scored 12 of her 14 points in the final 6:10 to power WSU past the Huskies, 85-76, on Saturday at Alaska Airlines Arena.
The Cougars (10-6, 4-0 Pac-12) swept the Huskies in a season series for the first time since 1975 after snapping a 36-game losing streak on Tuesday. WSU won in Seattle for the first time since January 1993.
But Washington State’s favorite stat after the game, however, was the fact that it was alone atop the conference standings. It’s the Cougars’ best start in conference play since a 5-0 opening run in the Northwest Women’s Basketball League in 1977-78.
“We’re confident,” said WSU junior Tia Presley, who scored 23 of her team-high 29 points in the opening half. “In this league, it’ll kill you if you’re not confident. We’re proud to be 4-0.”
Meanwhile UW (8-7, 1-3) is on a three-game losing streak. It has a five-day break before hosting Utah on Friday.
“I’m disappointed because we’re supposed to beat that team,” said UW junior Jazmine Davis, who finished with 22 points. “I take it personally when we lose. Especially today. It was like, ‘Wow.’?”
Plum quickly interjected: “Credit Washington State, they’re good. People get (dismissive) but Washington State went into Nebraska and beat Nebraska. They beat Arizona State. They can score. … We don’t need to focus on them, we need to focus on what we did wrong.”
Washington’s defense was the problem in the second half. With the score tied at 73 with 2:19 remaining, Galdeira scored seven points in her team’s 12-3 run to close the game.
WSU coach June Daugherty benched Galdeira, who played just 23 minutes, after she picked up her second foul with 12:03 left in the first half. Presley replaced her in the lineup and made 3 of 4 three-pointers to help WSU take a 42-40 lead into the break.
Cougars junior center Shalie Dheensaw scored seven points in a 11-3 run early in the second half to build a 57-49 WSU lead.
Plum responded with seven straight points of her own to keep the game close. She finished with a season-high 30 points overall in a matchup that saw six ties and four lead changes in the second half.
A 6-foot-4 post player, Dheensaw had her first two career double-doubles against the Huskies, finishing with 20 points and 13 rebounds Saturday. She had 11 points and 14 rebounds in Tuesday’s win.
“They all have really identified their roles and are playing outstanding,” UW coach Mike Neighbors said. “I’m not in panic mode. We played a team that’s 4-0 in the league. What’s the difference whether it’s Stanford or Washington State? It’s 4-0.”